Arsenic and Poultry
LA Times Journalist Deborah Blum provides a timely article on one very real danger lurking in human and pet foods; arsenic in poultry. This remains one of those shake your head in disbelief and disgust issues.
“Most commercial-grade poultry feed today contains an arsenic-based pesticide.” Why? “Because arsenic’s potent effect on blood vessels makes the chicken and turkey we buy look pinker and therefore fresher.” Belief of the 19th century was “though arsenic was lethal in high doses, it posed no real danger to humans in tiny amounts.”
“But over the last few decades, scientists have come to appreciate that at continual low doses, it’s also a nasty human carcinogen. A 2006 project by a Minnesota-based advocacy group, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, found the poison in 55% of chicken parts (breast, thighs and livers) tested. Just to give you a few more numbers: The highest amount — 21.2 parts per million — occurred in generic brands; the least in organic products. The maximum amount allowed by the FDA in chicken meat is 2 parts per million, set some decades ago. For those who want another comparison, the EPA considers 10 parts per billion in drinking water to be high enough to pose a cancer risk.”
The European Union banned Roxarsone (arsenic feed ingredient trade name) in 1999, however it is still legal in the U.S. and approved by the FDA. “A petition filed by the trade policy institute and the Center for Food Safety urging the FDA to reconsider its standards has been waiting for a response for nearly a year.” Nearly a year! Congress sits on the Poison Free Poultry Act – for another year – “the bill has effectively gone nowhere.”
Of huge concern is our pets; the most common pet food ingredient is chicken. While humans might consume arsenic laced chicken two or three times a week, a pet could/can consume arsenic laced chicken every single day for years. Two human food chicken producers, Tyson and Perdue Farms, have voluntarily removed arsenic from their poultry feed. However pet owners are provided with no information if arsenic is included in the feed given to the chickens and turkeys that later become pet food ingredients.
A highly lethal ingredient added to animal feed simply to improve the cosmetic appearance of the meat, is stupid, ridiculous, and insane. A highly lethal ingredient intentionally fed to poultry that could be consumed by pets day in/day out for years is frightening. Although this is another bit of effort we have to put forth to provide our pets with a safe food, call your pet food manufacturer and ask them if they test for arsenic levels in their chicken/poultry ingredients. They need to be.
Call or email your Representatives in Congress, tell them to get moving on the Poison Free Poultry Act. Modern science has more than proven the risk of arsenic in poultry feed, Congress and the FDA needs to take immediate action.
To read the Poison Free Poultry Act bill, visit http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3624
To read the LA Times story quoted above, visit http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-blum-turkey-arsenic-20101124,0,6746802.story
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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